Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Councilor Michael Flaherty Responds to the Brighton Centered Questionnaire

Councilor Michael Flaherty responded to the Brighton Centered questionnaire for the candidates for Boston City Councilor-At-Large.
  1. QUESTION: If you could reverse one decision made by the City Council in the last five years, what would it be and why?

    RESPONSE: In 2004, the City Council decided to extend the expiration date for urban renewal areas in Boston for the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). Looking back, it was probably a real opportunity for the Council to dilute some of the power of the BRA and create a separate, independent planning agency. I regret that the Council did not seize that chance to finally bring some balance back to the City’s planning and redevelopment initiatives.

  2. QUESTION: What specific changes do you think should be made to Article 80 of the zoning code?

    RESPONSE: I support having a clearly defined process that legitimately allows for the public to participate in the review process for all proposed real estate development projects. However, I believe that process should be consistently employed and have a finite start and end, something that I think the current process – under Article 80 – lacks. Too many times, I have seen proposed projects languish indefinitely, with its lengthy and ambiguous review process wearing down all parties, especially the public. Not only does this frustrate the public and developers, it results in costly delays. We need to refine Article 80 in a way that strikes a balance between providing appropriate opportunities for public review and at the same time, keeping to some kind of sensible, cost-efficient timeline.

  3. QUESTION: Vancouver, British Columbia, requires 25% of their new housing stock built downtown to be “family-friendly.” What is your vision of the specific design elements that would make housing “family-friendly,” and should Boston adopt a similar requirement?

    RESPONSE: As a parent trying to raise a family in the city, I have a personal and professional interest in making Boston a place to raise families. That’s why I have consistently called upon developers to increase their supply of senior efficient units, as well as three-bedroom units. In addition, I believe our city should be crafting a housing program that links affordable housing to opportunity. We can do this through sound housing policy that places affordable housing units in areas of vast opportunities for advancement, whether it’s in employment, education, financial wealth, or family self-sufficiency. Affordable housing units that are deliberately located in a place that is convenient to high performing schools, prolonged employment opportunities, reliable public transportation, and quality child care facilities will certainly open the doors to new opportunities for advancement and make it possible for families to stay in Boston.

  4. QUESTION: Some people have proposed that the BPS return to “neighborhood” or “community” schools. Do you support such a proposal? How would such a move impact the achievement gap?  

    RESPONSE: As a parent with three children in the Boston Public Schools, I have a vested interest in strengthening our public school system. By calling for smaller classroom sizes, extended school days and an increased supply of quality educational resources for each student, I have consistently supported measures to close the achievement gap. I intend to keep pushing for a school system that has the confidence of every parent from every Boston neighborhood. I wholeheartedly understand the concerns of parents who want to send their children to their neighborhood schools and agree that more parent-student AND parent-teacher time plays a valuable role in student’s academic success. Furthermore, I cannot overlook the fact that the tens of millions of dollars currently spent on transportation could be significant money invested in improving our most vulnerable schools. Nevertheless, I think it is unrealistic and socially reckless to go to 100% neighborhood schools overnight. Changing the structure of our school assignment process is an enormous undertaking that necessitates serious discussion and careful thought. Should we consider any proposal to change the school assignment process, we must be directed by the goal to assure ALL Boston students of a quality public education. I will work hard to facilitate productive and responsible dialogue on this issue by bringing together all stakeholders: educators, parents, policy experts, city and community leaders.

  5. QUESTION: Should Boston College be required to house all of their undergraduate students in on-campus dormitories? If so, where should the dormitories be located? On their 'Brighton Campus' (land recently purchased from the Archdiocese of Boston), on their 'Main Campus,' or both?  

    RESPONSE: I have been a long-term proponent of having our local colleges and universities build more student campus housing as a way to free up the supply of available rental units and keep rental prices at affordable prices for the area’s working families. However, at the same time we encourage our academic institutions to create more on-campus housing options for students, we must also promote and encourage them to develop and/or expand in a responsible manner that respects the interests of the neighborhood residents.

  6. QUESTION: Have you ever used the Mayor's 24-Hour Constituent Service hotline, either the phone number or the online version? Is it an effective tool for delivering constituent services? What, if anything, would you change about it?  

    RESPONSE: The city has an obligation to responsibly and efficiently meet the needs of constituents. However, I am unsure that the 24-hour hotline is the appropriate tool as it lacks the ability to track constituents’ requests. That is why we need CitiStat, which is a government accountability program that I called for in 2004. CitiStat enables every request to be tracked so that the city – and its residents (by phone or internet) – can comprehend how quickly and adequately requests are addressed.

No comments: